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How to avoid fighting over a will

While living wills are certainly a staple of proper estate planning, some men and women worry if the document will spark arguments amongst family members after they have passed away. Families that generally get along with one another can be blinded by big bucks and argue over who gets what, while other families simply do not get along period.

One lawyer said that in his experience he has seen far more instances of families accepting the wishes of a loved one as laid out in a will rather than fighting over it. Still, controversy can arise over such matters. The remedy is careful planning.

First, a person must take a look at their family and gauge the likelihood that they might argue over the wishes of a living will. Families that don't get along right now will probably not magically get along with each other once the loved one has passed on.

With knowing the tendencies of certain family members, a man or woman must be brutally honest with their estate planning attorney. Letting an attorney know any worries they have will help the professional construct a plan to avoid such issues. Some people opt for what is called an "in terrorem clause," which automatically disinherits a beneficiary if they try to challenge a will. Be careful, though, because this clause is not recognized by every state.

Forming a plan of action is one thing, but committing to it 100 percent is a whole other issue. Estate planners will want to put the plan in action right away and stick firm on it. Going back and forth will only further muddy the waters, which begs for major issues once an estate is passed on to beneficiaries.

In order to funnel assets to their proper destination, it takes careful planning. An efficient estate planning expert always has a clear vision of the future, which includes identifying possible roadblocks. The key is to plan for those obstacles and avoid them.

Source: NWI.com, "ESTATE PLAN: Plan for a fight," Christopher W. Yugo, March 2, 2013

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